Who was the Sapa Inca?
Like the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Inca was the
all-powerful emperor, the leader of the Inca people.
emperor. Sapa Inca means the only emperor.
The Sapa Inca ruled
everything and owned everything. The Inca was not just a ruler. The
Inca was believed to be a direct descendant of the sun god, Inti.
Did he have servants?
Yes, he did. Servants carried the Sapa Inca everywhere in
a golden litter, and waited on him hand and foot. He ate off gold
plates and drank from gold cups.
When the Inca left the palace,
women and children, colorfully dressed in specially made outfits,
went in front of the golden litter. They swept the ground, and threw
flowers, and played music.
The emperor never went anywhere without
Was he married?
Every Incan ruler had many wives. The Inca
might have as many as 100 children. He could marry anyone of noble
blood, but usually the emperor married his sister in formal
ceremony, as his main wife.
All the Inca's wives had a job in
common. It was their job to collect and guard anything the Inca
might drop, including a single hair from his head. Everything about
the Inca was sacred, and everything had to be guarded to protect the
Inca from evil spirits.
Where did he live?
The emperor lived in a palace, with gold and silver walls. He
ate off plates made of gold, and drank from cups made of gold. He
wore a gold fringe around his forehead as the emblem of his office.
His throne was just a low stool, probably made of wood. Since
wood was scarce, a wood stool was valuable. His blanket was made of the
finest wool. He slept on the floor on a mat, just as all people did
in the Inca Empire.
What did the Inca
wear? The Inca
wore clothes that were made by women called the "chosen
women". The Inca only wore an outfit once. When
his clothes were removed, they were burned. The chosen women were
kept very busy making clothes for the Inca. The clothes were very
Only the Inca could wear a headdress with his
special fringe of gold and feathers. His coat was covered with
jewels and pieces of turquoise. He wore heavy gold shoulder pads. He
wore heavy gold bracelets and earrings. His earrings were so heavy
that they pulled his earlobes down until they rested on his shoulder
pads. He wore shoes of leather and fur. He wore a royal shield on
his chest engraved with a picture of the sun god. He wore a royal
badge made of hummingbird feathers, framed with gold. It is amazing
he could even breathe weighed down as he was by the golden symbols
of his office.
Could anyone see the
Inca? Whenever the Inca left his palace, his
face was covered with a translucent cloth. It was believed that he
was too splendid to be seen by everyone.
Could anyone become
the next Inca? The answer is
no. Only a son of the current emperor and the main wife could become
the next Inca. Should they have more than one son, the choice was
not always the oldest son. The heir to the throne was given special
training to make sure he could outdo other boys in strength and
endurance. But he was not automatically selected. The son who proved
himself most worthy was selected. Before he died, the Inca selected
the son who would replace him. He had his council to help him, but
the Inca made the final decision.